City taking the lead
Athletic directors always have an extra dose of enthusiasm and support for their programs, but for Michigan City’s Craig Shaman, there’s a program and sport that’s means just a little bit more than the rest he oversees as Wolves A.D.
Monday will mark the first conference-wide Unified track meet in Duneland Athletic Conference history and City will be the first host for the big day in what Shaman called “a historic day for the Duneland Conference.”
“We at Michigan City, along with the Duneland Conference, want to be considered as leaders of the Unified track world since it started four or five years ago,” Shaman said. “We pride ourselves on the spirit of excitement and the spirit of sportmanship in Unified track and we want to convey that to the rest of the schools.”
Minus Portage, every Duneland Conference school has a Unified track and field team, including La Porte, which gave Shaman and a few others among the conference the thought to throw around the idea of having a conference meet like both boys and girls track teams have for each of the eight Duneland schools every year.
″(The conference) really looks to us as the leaders of the sport and when the idea came about on hosting the first meet, they looked to us to host and we couldn’t be more excited about the whole thing,” Shaman said. “We’re putting it together and I couldn’t be more excited about it than I already am. We consider this sort of like our baby and it’s developed into a cool thing. We take a lot of personal pride in it.”
Shaman’s enthusiasm for today’s event overflowed during the point where he discussed that, although Jimmy John’s can’t officially sponsor the event, the restaurant is prepping close to 500 sandwiches for the athletes, coaches and volunteers. The school will also provide music and some cheerleaders for additional support.
One aspect of City’s team that Shaman holds dearest is how the Wolves are the one of the few teams, if not the only team that greets every athlete when they arrive at a meet they’re hosting.
“We take pride in supporting every team that we compete against. It should be a great time for everybody,” Shaman said. “One of the more important aspects when it comes to Unified track is having fun and that’s what I’m focused on. We want everyone to have a good time.”
The format of the meet will be similar to the official state meet that will take place June 1 on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington with limited entries for the participating athletes. Shaman thinks this will not only help the competition level for the seven teams, but provide a necessary sense of organization and professionalism, just like the regular state track meets do.
“We wanted, and I say ‘we’ as us at Michigan City and the other schools in the conference, to run it as a proper event,” Shaman said. “We hope that we can be proper leaders for the first event and lay a little groundwork for things moving into the future. We’re really excited about it. I know I am personally. It’s going to be a wonderful time for everybody. I can’t wait.”
Unified Sports is joint Indiana High School Athletic Association/Special Olympics Indiana project that allows high school students with and without intellectual disabilities to collectively represent their school in an IHSAA- sanctioned activity. Its participation has steadily grown since the initial post-season in 2013-14. Michigan City and La Porte each took part in their first Unified sectional the following year.
2019 Duneland Athletic Conference Unified Track Championship
Where: Michigan City High School
Time: 4:30 p.m.